Hari Carey:The Press Gets It Wrong (Part Two)

Lately, barely a week goes by without some deranged psychotic liar asserting that I am obsessed with going through their work (and their work alone) with a fine tooth comb and pointing out errors, when in actuality I’ve been doing this sort of media criticism in a wide ranging manner,  almost since the beginning of my time on the blogs.  

When I posted my little screed complaining about outrageous errors of fact in the coverage of the life of the late Governor, Hugh Carey, I never anticipated doing a sequel, but the waterfall of careless falsehoods continues unabated. 

Actually, unlike their obituary, this Times story is pretty good. I especially like the way it makes clear Carey was a native of Flatbush,   and not Park Slope, even if it calls Rutland Road an “Avenue.”

I also like the fact it clears up why anyone thought   Chuck Schumer represented Carey’s old seat,  when in actuality, the seat Schumer represented was, during Carey’s time in Congress, held by Emanuel Celler and Elizabeth Holtzman (who Schumer succeeded) , while Carey was succeeded in his old seat by  Leo Zefferetti, who held it until 1982, when it was eliminated.

Schumer had been elected to the Assembly from the Greater Sheepshead Bay/Midwood based 45th AD, but even before the time of his taking his seat in Congress,  and coinciding with his marriage, he’d moved to the then-tony (pool and doorman) Philip Howard Apartments in the Flatbush Junction area of the 41st AD. 

By the 1982 reapportionment, Phillip Howard had, to use a term Schumer used at meetings in white areas when no press was around (I’ve witnessed it more than once) started to “TIP”.

Leo Zefferetti, the weakest intellectual link in the Brooklyn delegation, was losing his seat, while Schumer was being protected by his mentor, District Leader Tony Genovesi, and Genovesi’s Assemblymen, Speaker Stanley Fink. In eviscerating Zefferetti, Schumer was given very little of Leo’s  seat, the brunt of which was swallowed by Guy Molinari and Steve Solarz. Schumer got a few Jewish areas and tony and liberal Park Slope, and shortly thereafter took the opportunity to join the white flight from Phillip Howard (which was eventually given to Major Owens).

Schumer, always conscious of history, moved to 9 Prospect Park West, and took the old apartment of Manny Cellar. The apartment was never in Celler’s district, but did provide Celler a Brooklyn residence, even though he really lived in Manhattan. As the Times article notes, 9 PPW was also for some time the home of Hugh Carey, who had actually represented the area, along with other areas far more conservative.

Hence the false conclusion that Schumer represented Carey’s old district.

Since the posting of my article I’ve received a number of inquiries on my thread and in my email about possible errors in various articles about Carey.

This one, from McBrooklyn , is mostly inoffensive, except for the fact it credits my Room 8 column to Azi Paybarah, which kind of hurts so soon after  Politico credited two of my best observations about the 9th CD race to Colin Campbell.  

This one, from The Brooklyn Eagle, calls Nelson Rockefeller Carey’s predecessor as Governor, when, in actuality, Carey succeeded Malcolm Wilson.

Here, the Brooklyn Paper calls Carey the first Congressman to oppose the Vietnam War.  This was not remotely true. Carey was not even the first NYS Congressman to oppose the Vietnam War (that would be either Bill Ryan of Manhattan or John Dow of Rockland County, with Ben Rosenthal of Queens joining soon afterwards), nor even the first old line Democrat to do so (that would be Tip O’Neill, though Rosenthal or New Jersey's Frank Thompson arguably could count). However, Carey’s opposition, heavily influenced by O’Neill, may have made him the first Brooklyn Congressman to oppose the war.

Today’s prize for the worst Carey article goes to Bill Hammond of the News.  

Hammond’s contention is that the time Carey was in Washington represented some sort of Renaissance for the New York City Congressional Delegation:

“Once upon a time, representing New York in Washington was the mark of an up-and-coming leader quite possibly destined for bigger and better things.”

Actually, this is something of a lie.

As Michael Barone noted in early editions of “The Almanac American Politics,” while in other states Congress was seen as a destination where one accumulated seniority and power, in New York, in Carey’s day, Congress was seen as a middle rung on the hack ladder before one ascended to the final destination of heaven, which in the then current New York zeitgeist was a Supreme Court Judgeship.

As a result, New York had a pathetically weak Congressional delegation.

During Carey’s time in Congress, five members (Lester Holtzman, Victor Anfuso, Abe Multer, Ted Kupferman and Paul Fino) left Congress to become judges.

By contrast, not one NYC member elected since Carey has left Congress has taken that route. (One member, Al Waldon, who served in Congress for about 15 minuutes during the 80s before being defeated, became a judge over a decade later, after first having served in the State Senate).     

As part of Hammond’s indictment, he cites recent members scarred by scandal, noting Charlie Rangel, Vito Fossella, Greg Meek and Anthony Weiner.

The only one of these men who’s suffered an arrest has been Fossella, and that was for a DWI.

Yes, Rangel was censured by his colleagues, but Rangel himself was part of the mythical generation of Hampton’s heroes who served with Carey in the bygone days.

One does not get to cite Liz Holtzman, who served one term with Carey, as an example of the superior past (as Hammond does), and then cite Rangel, who served two terms with Carey, as an example of the awful present (as Hammond also does).

Especially, when Holtzman later lost her job as City Comptroller because of the whiff of scandal.

Especially, when Rangel took the seat of a man named Adam Clayton Powell, who served all or part of five terms with Carey, and who was not merely censured by Congress, but at one point, denied his seat by them.

In fact, when it comes to NYC corruption, Carey’s tenure in Congress can be compared to a sewer.

Carey served seven terms in Congress. Of those who served with him during those 14 years, four (John Murphy, Frank Brasco, Bert Podell, and Mario Biaggi) went to jail for corruption.

Of the members of Congress elected from NYC in the 37 years since Carey left Congress, only two, Fred Richmond and Robert Garcia, have suffered convictions greater than a DWI. Not one NYC member of Congress elected in the 29 years since Carey left the Governorship has suffered such a fate.

The only metric where Hammond would seem to have a point is success in obtaining higher office.

Of the NYC  members who served in Congress with Carey, two others, John Lindsay and Ed Koch, went on to win higher office.

It should be noted though that Carey found this less impressive. He called the 1969 Mayoral Election “a Hobson’s choice” and called Lindsay “an incompetent.”

As to Koch, when his former three term colleague ran for Mayor, Carey put up Mario Cuomo against him.

By contrast, only two NYC members of Congress first elected since Carey became Governor have been elected to another office, and one of them was elected Staten Island Borough President.  Only Chuck Schumer has won city or statewide office.

Of those who served with Carey, several others, besides Lindsay, Koch and Holtzman, sought higher office; among them were Bill Ryan, Bella Abzug (Carey supported Cuomo against her for Mayor), Shirley Chisholm (who, for reasons of publicity disdained a seat on the Agriculture Committee, even though it had jurisdiction over Food Stamps, but found time to run  a symbolic race for President), Herman Badillo (though Badillo is a bit of a cheat, since he made his best race for Mayor before his election to Congress, and spent his few years in Congress trying to leave it as quickly as possible), Peter Peyser and East Harlem hack Al Santangelo (already living in the Bronx when he ran for Manhattan Borough President).

By contrast, of the NYC members who first took office since Carey 's time in Congress ended, in addition to Schumer and Guy Molinari, only Anthony Weiner, Gerry Ferraro and Bruce Caputo have even tried hard enough for another job to actually make it to a ballot

But this is not necessarily a bad thing; not only are the hacks serving time until a judgeship opens up gone, but also gone are the attention- seeking show horses, replaced instead by those who chose to stay the course and attain real power by learning the institution and doing their homework.

Bye Bye Bella Abzug.

Hello Jerry Nadler.

This is supposed to be a bad thing?